Drive By Wire. Night Shifter. Berlin: TLTRPreß. 2018.
A short story about night-work and affect and autonomous vehicles. Commissioned by Auto Italia South East as part of the Daylight Management exhibition by Martin Kohout. (Email me for full text)
There are safer ways to do this. Civic authorities have the muscle and money to carve out chunks of the city for boy racers. My ex, Jake, went to one of those freeride circuits one afternoon for a friend’s stag do – so obscenely expensive that they’d waited until the first of th gang got married to have an excuse to do it. They all signed the killer insurance disclaimer, got given the yellow suits, and strapped down into the cars which they drove – “drove” – around and around with the sun high in the sky.
We had such a row about it afterwards. Jake was convinced that some of the controls were still in place. He’d tried to overtake the groom at one point and felt a sub-audible hum of some gear clicking into place to hold him back from going full belter. He wanted a refund; I told him not to be so bloody stupid because of course the car was only modded and not fully broken, and did he think he’d really be allowed to actually be in control? Of course the wire was still there, guiding his every move.
I’d been working at the tracks for a few months by then so had a pretty strong, if second-hand, sense of how to gut cars. I realised later though that I wasn’t annoyed by Jake’s stubbornness or even his naivety. What riled me was how tame his little adventure was, now sanitised. Pay your money, show your face. I’d seen enough people mulched and worse by then to wish that on him, but I wanted him to have the audacity and guts to do it for real, all strings cut, in the dark, rather than just zipping around with his mates having a fun time.